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Exams are 'failing to prepare school leavers' for engineering careers

Amit Katwala

(Credit: IET)
(Credit: IET)

A lack of skills-based learning could harm the engineering industry and stifle economic growth, say experts.

Thousands of students received their GCSE results today, but their career prospects are being hampered by a lack of work experience opportunities, according to Alison Carr, director of policy at the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

“As we are facing an engineering shortfall in the next decade, compounded by uncertainty around skills following Brexit, it is never too early to start developing the next generation of ‘home grown’ engineering and technology talent that have the right practical skills,” she said.

She called for employers to widen the opportunities available for young people. “Work experience is part of the solution and we are now calling on employers and educators to continue to strengthen their working relationships to ensure that the work experience they offer is designed with the skills gap in mind,” she said.

An IET survey of more than 400 engineering employers last year found that 68% were concerned that the education system would struggle to keep up with the skills required for technological change, while 50% said that a typical recruit did not meet their reasonable expectations.

The number of students taking STEM subjects at A-level increased this year, but that trend is threatened by teacher shortages, according to Sarah Main, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering. “Students are equipped and inspired by great teachers with specialist knowledge of their subject,” she said. “Government must do more to address chronic teacher shortages in physics, maths and computing to ensure that every student can benefit from having a teacher with expertise in the science subject they are teaching.”




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